BlackCat ransomware group is behind Italy’s GSE hack, researchers say


A hooded man holds a laptop computer while cybercode is projected onto him in this illustrative image taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

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STOCKHOLM/MILAN, 2 September (Reuters) – Hacker group BlackCat was behind a recent attack on Italian state-owned energy services company GSE, stealing a huge amount of data and threatening to release it if its demands are not met, security researchers and documents seen by Reuters said .

In a ransomware attack, hackers steal data and threaten their victims with data leaks, often extorting them into paying in cryptocurrency.

BlackCat, also known as ALPHV, emerged in mid-November last year and is known for launching sophisticated attacks on numerous businesses in the US and Europe.

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On Friday, she claimed to have downloaded 700 gigabytes of data from GSE, including project, contract and accounting information, and uploaded images of documents from the hack.

“BlackCat has long been focused on organizations in the energy industry and is very active,” said Ryan Olson, vice president of threat intelligence at Unit 42, a division of cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks.

“We are tracking 136 global casualties posted at their leak site so far in 2022,” he told Reuters.

GSE declined to comment. It had previously said the hacking took place between Sunday and Monday.

The average recovery cost after a ransomware attack is estimated at $1.85 million, said Walter Ruffinoni, CEO of NTT Data Italia.

“In Italy, the phenomenon has increased by 350% in the last year, where 1.9% of Italian companies suffered an attack of this type every week,” said Ruffinoni.

Last month, Italian oil company Eni (ENI.MI) also had its computer networks hacked, although the company said the impact so far appears to be minor. Continue reading

On a dark website, BlackCat posted 12 victims in June, 26 victims in July, and so far two victims in August, Olson said.

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Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and Elvira Pollina in Milan Additional reporting by Francesco Zecchini Editing by Peter Graff

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